A landscape. Perfect and flowing and green. Yellow and purple and oranges and pink blossoms are abundant. The sun is shining through the clouds and the trees are perfect, like the kind you might have climbed in as a child. It is the ideal life. Take one piece out of the puzzle however, one thing in the middle, and you leave a hole. Without that piece, the picture is never what it was.
As I take my first steps into daylight, I am hesitant to even breathe. I am struck with the realization that when I came in it was night, and now the sun is shining. The world is different than the one that I left behind. It is louder, brighter. I can see the car. I can see where I’m supposed to go. But I want nothing more than to walk, to venture, to get lost. My life is misshapen. It’s broken, irrevocably altered. I am a puzzle piece that no longer fits into the landscape. This is the point in my life at which I will turn, this is blatantly apparent. I will go one way or another. I will break, or I will stay together. But nothing will be the way that it was. It isn’t possible.
How do you come back from an experience that changes you forever? How do connect to a world that you don’t trust to hold your secrets? How do you move forward when it feels like time is stuck? Answer—you don’t. You just don’t. You curl up into a ball and you don’t come out again. You wear your favorite pajamas and you wrap up in a fluffy blanket and you deny that the rest of the world exists. Because to you, it doesn’t. It doesn’t. It never will.
I reach out, feel the air through my fingers. Breathe in the winter surrounding me. Breathe in life. I need to take what I can get; I’m not sure if I’m living anymore, and I need confirmation. I need to make myself feel something. Anything but him. He is all I feel and there is nothing else. I imagine that a wall surrounds me, a bubble. I am isolated from the rest of the world and living in my own time. My own space.
He has the power. I have none.
In the land of Foucault, my favorite theorist, discourse and knowledge and power intertwine and blend together. Discourse brings power and knowledge together, and when someone is allowed to have their own thoughts and ideas they gain knowledge. With that knowledge comes power. Nobody gives them the power and they don’t take the power. It’s tied to the knowledge. Until a person who is abused knows their options and knows that they are their own person, they lack the knowledge that necessitates power. One of the things that disempowers the abused is silence—that we don’t talk about it or that we talk about it quietly. It’s all about keeping things quiet.
It can be hard to separate from something when you’re in the moment, in the thick of it. With time comes perspective. Trying to take power from me was a way of making up for his own lack. I didn’t know any better, I put power onto him that he didn’t have or deserve by keeping quiet. I know better now. I’m older. I have distance. I think that that’s the most important thing. We have to confront our demons in order to be stronger people, and confronting our demons means naming them.
You don’t come back. You only go forward.
You connect to the world in new, different ways. You find different places in which to fit instead of cramming yourself into places no longer for you.
You move forward by putting one foot in front of the other. One step at a time. One thing at a time. One day at a time.
Some days I break, and I need to keep telling myself that that’s okay. It’s okay to sometimes not be okay. It’s okay to be scared when a guy comes up behind me and places hands on my shoulders. Justifiable, even. It doesn’t make me bad, or wrong, or abnormal. It makes me human. It means that I’m feeling. And in feeling, I’m accepting.
I’m tired of talking about things quietly. I’m tired of hiding. I need to find a way to use my experience. I’ve realized that I’m stronger than I know. And I figured it out.
For real. I need to publish the damn book. And then I need to let it go, or it will break me.
“How wild it was, to let it be.”
A landscape. Flowing and wild. Colored blossoms and animals are abundant. The sun is shining through the clouds and the trees reach for the sky. It is life, but not ideal. It’s real. Take one piece out of the puzzle however, one thing in the middle, and you leave a hole. Without that piece, the picture is never what it was.
So you take a crayon and you color in the hole. You make a new picture. You rebuild. And you make it okay.